Gateway Gazette

Alberta Small Business Confidence in Free-Fall

 

Drops 4.3 points in January to another record low 

CALGARY, January, 2016 – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today released the Business Barometer results for January showing Alberta’s small business confidence dropped 4.3 points to 28.8.  This latest result is 26 points below the January 2015 index and continues to break records for the weakest level ever reported anywhere in Canada in the Business Barometer’s® 15 year history.

“Alberta’s small business confidence is in free-fall with even more lay-offs on the horizon.  In the last recession, confidence levels began rebounding much more quickly.  At this point, it is not clear how low it might go,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director of CFIB.

Small business hiring plans further weakened in January with 35 per cent of owners saying they will reduce their full-time workforce, up five points from December.  Only nine per cent say they intend to hire in January, unchanged from the previous month.

“A third of small businesses in Alberta report they will have to shrink their workforce, a last resort for many businesses,” said Ruddy.

Concern with insufficient domestic demand shot up 10 points in January with 71 per cent of business owners in Alberta reporting weak demand for their goods and services as their top limitation.

“To improve spirits the Alberta Government should announce a firm release date for the provincial budget.  Entrepreneurs want to know a plan is being developed to deal with the mounting challenges in the economy.  In light of the current economic downturn, the government would be wise to reconsider the $15 minimum wage proposal and carbon tax scheme,” added Ruddy.

On a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance.  An index level between 65 and 75 is typically when the economy is growing.

Optimism in British Columbia fell to 62.8.  Saskatchewan rose two points to 58.7, while Manitoba fell five points to 61.4.  Ontario dropped to 58.4, while Quebec saw a two point jump to 61.2.  Newfoundland and Labrador’s slipped to 63.2.  Nova Scotia fell two points, but its 69.0 mark is the strongest in Canada.  New Brunswick’s confidence rose to 62.8.  Prince Edward Island fell a point to 60.3.

The January 2016 findings are based on 712 responses collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members to a controlled-access web survey.  Data reflect responses received through January 18.  Findings are considered accurate to +\- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.

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